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Description - Bench Press by Sven Lindqvist

In the late 1980s, Sven Lindqvist fell into conversation with an evangelical bodybuilder, while relaxing in the sauna after his weekly swim. The conversation challenged Lindqvist's view of the sport as macho and vain and individualistic, and lead to his first attendance at the local gym. In "Bench Press", Lindqvist takes us through his own journey in the gym, but also tells us the entertaining and bizarre history of bodybuilding, and meditates on what its increased popularity tells us about contemporary society.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781862075726
ISBN-10: 1862075727
Format: Paperback
(215mm x 135mm x 13mm)
Pages: 176
Imprint: Granta Books
Publisher: Granta Books
Publish Date: 23-Jan-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - Bench Press by Sven Lindqvist

UK Kirkus Review » Robert Morley used to say that his idea of hell consisted of a vast gymnasium in which he was destined to exercise for all eternity, but in this unusual autobiographical essay Swedish writer Sven Lindqvist expresses the idea of the gymnasium as heaven. Rather than revealing a gymnasium as a body-building mecca for sweaty, grunting, vain and individualistic young men, his first experience, in middle age, launched an odyssey of discovery, not only of the muscles and sinews buried deep within his then flabby flesh, but of the history of body-building itself. Having researched numerous books about the subject, from the ancient Greeks and Romans, through the Taoists of China, to Yukio Mishima and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lindqvist provides a wealth of quotes and anecdotes, as well as a variety of recipes for achieving the aesthetic goal of a perfect body. He refers, for example, to the novelist Charles Kingsley, who preached a form of 'Muscular Christianity', claiming that an intimate relationship exists between muscles and morality. The book also includes a history of weights, with drawn illustrations of simple bar-bells and dumb-bells, and more sophisticated gymnastic contraptions used throughout the ages, some of which would surely have instilled terror into Robert Morley. Furthermore he reveals that body-building enables him to recall personal childhood dreams both of deep-sea diving and travelling in the Sahara. Above all, Lindqvist beautifully conveys the sheer exhilaration he derives from lifting weights - the 'pump', feeling blood coursing through the veins while the skin becomes tautly stretched over muscles expanding to new dimensions, is claimed by many body-builders to be more pleasurable than orgasm. Although the book failed to send this reader scurrying down the road to his local gym, it's a highly enjoyable read, particularly the philosophical musings and poetic reveries of adventure that punctuate Lindqvist's factual and personal information. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - Sven Lindqvist

Sven Lindqvist was born in Stockholm in 1932 where he still lives, and has travelled extensively through Asia, Africa and Latin America. He is the author of A History of Bombing, 'Exterminate All The Brutes' and Desert Divers, shortlisted for the Thomas Cook Travel Award.

Books By Sven Lindqvist

Dead Do Not Die by Sven Lindqvist
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Myth of Wu Tao-tzu by Sven Lindqvist
Paperback, August 2012
Saharan Journey by Sven Lindqvist
Paperback, February 2012
History of Bombing by Sven Lindqvist
Paperback, February 2012